Chocolate and Zucchini Cake

I know what some of you may be thinking. Chocolate and zucchini? Yuck! But trust me, this cake tastes nothing like zucchini! I'm not a big zucchini fan, so I was a little concerned about the whole zucchini aspect of this thing, too, especially when the recipe said to chop the zucchini into small pieces, instead of grating it. I was really worried that people would be put off by all those little bits of zucchini in their cake, but it wasn't even noticeable . . . at all! It was a really great tasting cake and I loved the hard chocolate shell on top. Oh, and did I mention that it's really easy to make? Not to mention really easy to eat! I hope you think so, too!

Recipe after the jump.

Chocolate and Zucchini Cake (adapted from Our Kitchen)


4 tablespoons butter (60g), softened
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
¼ cup milk
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 cup flour
¼ cup cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unpeeled zucchini, finely diced
100g dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 320 F (160 C) Bake
2. Grease a 20cm round loose bottomed cake tin
3. Cream the butter, oil and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Add the egg, vanilla, milk and vinegar and beat together to combine.
5. In a large bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon and stir to combine.
6. Add the creamed mixture and zucchini to the flour mixture and mix until just combined.
7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 50 – 60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
8. Remove the cake from the oven and sprinkle with the chopped/grated chocolate.
9. Return to the oven for a further 2-3 minutes or until the chocolate has melted.

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chip Streusel

If you look here, here, and here, you could easily conclude that I am a lover of all things banana bread. And you would be right. I do love this humble loaf and am always up for trying yet another banana bread recipe. I cannot resist the perfume-y moistness the bananas give the cake. It’s also a fantastic way to use bananas that have been sitting on the dining room table, fast moving past their prime. If you are part of a small household, and bananas come in big bunches, you will know what I mean. With a new member on board though, perhaps I can look forward to the day when we won’t always end up with a few rotten bananas. Which is not to say that I will ever stop letting some go “bad” for my bread :)

Now, you may not be up for reading yet another banana bread recipe over here but the fact of the matter is, and I might as well admit it now and get it out of the way, I will most likely continue trying all manners of banana bread recipes, and posting them in this space (unless of course it was totally heinous then you can be sure nobody would hear of it). I hope you don’t mind :)

This recipe is from Tessa Kiros’ book Apples for Jam, one of my very favorite cookbooks just because it is such a beautiful book written in such a lovely way. It’s a book I tucked into bed with me many times when I was pregnant. More than any pregnancy or baby book, Apples for Jam, with Tessa’s lyrical snippets from her childhood and that of her two (adorable!) daughters, would keep my pre-delivery jitters at bay much more than any account of “what to expect”. I still look over its pages and dream of the good things I want to make for (and with!) Little C someday.

This banana bread is one of them.

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chip Streusel
(Banana bread from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros, streusel adapted from Ramblings From a Gypsy Soul)

For the banana bread:
  • 125 grams butter
  • 180 grams dark brown sugar
  • 350 grams ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons warm milk

For the chocolate chip streusel:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cold
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

- Make your streusel: Mix sugar and flour together. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or rub with your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips. Set aside in a cool place where the butter will not melt while you get on with your batter (I stick mine in the fridge).
- Cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Mix in the mashed bananas.
- Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to the mixture and stir until everything is mixed well. Sift in the flour and baking powder and mix until just incorporated and smooth.
- Mix baking soda into the warm milk and mix this into the batter.
- Scrape the batter into a loaf tin that’s been buttered and bake for about 50 minutes in an 180C oven, or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack to cool.

Tessa’s recipe is for just the cake. I added the same streusel topping I used here, adding chocolate chips to the mix just because I had them around…although who really needs a reason to add chocolate to cake? I certainly don’t :)

Chocolate Chips

Generally speaking, I'm not much of a chip eater. Chips have gotten more appetizing over the years, but I don't really like greasy foods, so classic potato chips just really aren't my thing. Don't get me wrong; I'll eat them, but they're not on my list of food obsessions. I'll have to admit, though, that when I saw these Food Should Taste Good chips at Whole Foods I was intrigued enough to stop and browse the flavors. Sweet potato, lime, olive, potato and chive, chocolate…chocolate?? Chocolate tortilla chips?? Oh, my gosh!! Once again, the possibility of discovering a sweet and salty masterpiece took hold of me.

Did the chips live up to my taste buds' expectations? Yes and no. The chocolate flavor is subtle. The chips are infused with chocolate and the flavor sort of creeps up on you after you've masticated the chip. The general response was hmmmm…interesting, but then you can't stop eating them! They're really tasty chips, but if you're expecting a tortilla chip covered in chocolate, that's not what you're going to get. So, no, these chips are not going to the top of my sweet and salty list, but I liked them so much that I bought some of there other chips (sweet potato, lime, multigrain) and I am now officially hooked! Next on my list? The cinnamon flavor! Oh, did I mention that they're gluten free and vegan?? Click here for more info and to shop online.

Wear Your Dress and Eat It, Too

Yes, your eyes to not deceive you that is a wedding dress made out of cake (and some pretty cool looking cake, at that)! Artist Lukka Sigurdardottir is the fabulous lady responsible for creating this extraordinary wedding cake dress and, personally, I was blown away when I saw it this afternoon. Such a playful take on tradition, like something out of children's story or a surrealistic painting, which are often not all that different! Oh, wait, I just remembered what this reminds me of! The Tom Petty video for Don't Come Around Here No More! Similar idea, but not as scary. :-) For more info, check out the Web site Gather and Nest.

One Month! (and a spice mix)

One month...yet another month has passed since I last dropped in here. I suppose I need a lesson in mum-time-management (mums across the world: how do you do it?). Would it suffice to say I've been distracted by the most delicious little feet and hands I have ever had the good fortune to encounter? Not to mention cheeks and bums and pata-jamon legs. That's not even to talk about the seemingly endless expressions she has, that no doubt would bore another human being to bits, but leave me hopelessly captivated. Enamored. Smitten.

My kingdon for all the time in the world to just watch her.

Unfortunately my kingdom doesn't fetch a price as high as that, so it's back to work I go! And back to all the other things I've (tsk, tsk, shuffle, shuffle) let fall a bit to the wayside (hello housework! hello home accounting! hello bills filing!) while I have been otherwise occupied.

And hopefully back to more regular visits here! Perhaps you won't believe me but I have been cooking despite the nourishment I already get from nibbling on chubby baby appendages. There's been some chori-gamba pasta using a newly discovered local chorizo purveyor. There's been some Asian-style steamed fish. Some wonderful steaks with potatoes roasted in duck fat. And even a lovely loaf of banana bread to use some old bananas and a new recipe (will share this soon!). The only thing is, the jump from cooking to actual photographing and posting was just not happening.

Well, it's a new year (hello 2010!) and (fingers crossed!) I aim to journal more of my cooking and baking adventures here. I'm not only writing for me (and for you kind folk who still come back despite my wonky posting) but for little C as well...something for her to read in the future when (fingers crossed!) she discovers the joys of creating her own food :)

Before we move forward however, let me share a look back at what I made for my Christmas gifts (yes, I did manage some homemade gifts!) in 2009. Because of the move and renovation, and my iminent delivery, I couldn't make anything as involved as chutney or jam, or even manage baked goods of any kind. I did want to make something for Christmas though and I found the perfect goody in Jen's all-purpose red rub! No-cook, easy to throw together, and a wonderfully flavorful --- it certainly fit the bill for Christmas 2009 :) It's a great spice mix to have on hand and can work with so many different things. I've tried it with chicken and pork ribs to excellent results. I'm thinking of using it on some fish fillets next, and maybe in some baked beans!

I wish you all the best in 2010! May many dreams come true this year! :)

Godiva, Tokyo

When I first caught a glimpse of this Godiva store in Tokyo, I was completely awestruck. In this incredible chocolate shop, designed by the Japanese interior design firm, Wonderwall, chocolate covers the walls and drips from melting ceilings, making it like no other Godiva store that I've seen before. It's whimsical and funny and creepy all at the same time! Not bad creepy, but, you know, a sort of Hansel and Gretel creepy, in that you want to eat the walls, but you feel like they might attack you at some point! :-) To learn more about this strange and wonderful store, click here.

Brownies with Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse

Another take on my beloved salted caramel, but this time it's gluten free! The trickiest part is the caramel, which is easy to make and easy to screw up, all at the same time. Everyone has there own way of making caramel, but I've found it's best to take it off the burner as soon as it turns amber...and I mean immediately! It's not difficult, but you do have to time it right or it's a disaster! Luckily, there aren't that many ingredients involved, so, if if turns into a big candy ball, you can just try again.

Recipe after the jump.

Adapted from Snippets in the Life of Chef Neufeld

Flourless Brownies

6 large eggs, room temp. (to quickly bring eggs to room temp. cover with hot tap water)
18 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (approx. 3 cups choc. chips)
1 cup butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Prepare a 9×13 pan by lining it with foil. Spray it with cooking spray.

Melt chocolate and butter in a large bowl set over simmering water. Making sure that the bowl does not come in contact with the water. Stir until smooth.

Add the vanilla and cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly combined.

Cool to room temp. (To speed up the cooling process you can stick it in the fridge while you prepare the eggs… just make sure to check it once in a while so that it does not cool down too much.)

Beat eggs on high for approx. 5 min. or until tripled in volume.

Fold half of eggs into cooled chocolate mixture until no streaks remain, then fold in the other half.

Poor batter into prepared pan and smooth out top.

Place the brownie pan into a larger pan (such as a roasting pan). Fill larger pan with hot water until it comes halfway up the smaller pan that contains the batter.
Bake for 15 min on center rack at 425. Turn off oven and leave pan in there for an additional 10 min.

Remove brownies from the water bath and place on wire wrack to cool.

Cover and refrigerate brownies overnight.

Salted Caramel and Milk Chocolate Mousse

1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. salted butter, room temp
1 cup heavy cream, divided
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Heat 1/4 cup cream until it is hot, set aside. Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (making sure the bowl does not come in contact with the water), set aside.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan add the sugar and water. Cook on med-high heat without stirring until it is an amber color, making sure not to burn it. Take the pan off the heat and add the butter and the hot cream. It will bubble and spit, but as long as the butter and cream are not cold it should calm down fairly quickly. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let cool until lukewarm, then mix it with the chocolate until smooth.

Whip remaining 3/4 cup cream (making sure everything is very cold) until soft peaks form. Fold 1/3 of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to loosen it up. Fold in remaining whipped cream.


I can't stop looking at these seriously decadent designs from British chocolatier Choccywoccydoodah. I was just thinking that these desserts look like something straight out of a Tim Burton movie, and then I discovered that Choccywoccydoodah actually did a lot of the chocolate work in Burton's remake of Willy Wonka! They also crafted delicious treats for one of the Harry Potter movies as well. Makes total sense. Their work conjures up such images of fun and fantasy that would work perfectly in those movies. Even their name makes you smile! Click here to view more of their work and here to order online.